1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question carbon monoxide alarm

    Volunteer Fire Department gets called to 1 1/2 wood frame with attached garage for activated carbon monoxide detector. Upon arrival residents report no health problems and show three 110 volt CO detectors (and five smoke detectors) properly distributed and installed in the home. Stove, clothes dryer, water heater, furnace and fireplace are all OK. The ONLY reading that the fire department's hand held CO detector shows is 20 ppm near a kitchen door leading into the garage. Inside the closed garage a teenage son has been using a battery charger on a 12 volt battery for his car, and the fire department's hand held CO meter now reads 35 PPM. Are gasses from the battery being charged by the son the culprit? If so, what other gasses are produced by a battery that is being charged, and what dangers do they present?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Car batteries contain Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4). Charging the battery may produce Hydrogen gas as a by product. CO unlikely. Was the son running the car in the garage? Had he been running the car, lawnmower, or other gasoline fueled item? Was the charger hooked to house current, or off a gasoline powered generator? More likely culprit(s) would be anything gasoline powered. The biggest hazard associated with the battery charging would be off gassing of Hydrogen. If there were an internal problem with the battery, a buildup of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
    gas is also a possibliity.
    Just some thoughts.

  3. #3
    Tom Granat
    Firehouse.com Guest


    here is a copy of a reply posted in this group on November 19, 1999 by EPFD-AL
    I had the exact same situation arise with a automotive battery charger once and couldn't find anyone with an explanation for me until I read a post in this forum from a firefighter ("itsl" from Oakville, Ontario, Canada) who had just completed a Haz Mat Tech course. His insights caused me to look for CO training in my area and I was lucky to find the County EMT Training Center had a free 3 hour first responders course for carbon monoxide emergencies. It was taught by a Fire Captain from Paramus NJ who had extensive training and experience with CO and he gave an OUTSTANDING presentation. He covered the NUMEROUS "contaminants" and "interference gasses" that will give our meters false readings in detail; and yes, the gasses (H2) given off by an automotive battery charger will activate a residential carbon monoxide detector and give our handhelds fits. If anyone is intrested; the EMT Center CO Course info/applications are available from: Bergen County EMS Training Center at East 281 Pascack Road in Paramus, NJ 07652 (201) 967-0751.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    To eCappy;
    The reason you got a readout on your CO monitor from the garage area was probably because of the interference gas of hydrogen sulfide that was evolved from the charging battery. The CO and H2S sensor are exactly the same so therefore you will get cross-sensitivity. Each sensor does have a filter to prevent the other gas from getting in but some alawys does. For more information contact Frank Docimo at www.docimo.com
    Good luck!

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